Friday, May 26, 2017

Final Reflection Blog

The three most important things I learned this year is to live life to the fullest, advocate for change, and to be empathetic. I learned the lesson of living life to the fullest when I read the book Tuesdays With Morrie. In this book an old, dying man wants to enjoy the time he has left. This has showed me how every moment is precious and you shouldn't waste it. The lesson to advocate for change was learned when I read the book Night. The main character, Elie Wiesel, decides to tell people his personal experiences of the Holocaust. He believes that if he does this then he can help prevent another event like it from occurring in the future. The last lesson I learned, which was to be empathetic, was taught to me by the book To Kill A Mockingbird. During this novel Atticus, one of the main characters, tells his children to put themselves into others shoes. If they do this then they would understand why people do what they do. This has taught me to not judge a person right away, but to try to understand them.

The thing that we did this year that I will remember for the rest of my life is going to the Holocaust museum. This experience was very bitter and somber. However, it gave me a real glimpse of what life was like back then. I even got to meet a survivor, which was very inspiring. She told us her experience and how she was impacted by it throughout her whole life. I can still feel what it was like in that cattle car when we were all jam packed. The air felt very heavy and cold. I was extremely uncomfortable standing there. By doing this, I grew a respect for all the poor souls who were once transported by it. Overall the experience was one that I will never forget. 

The nicest thing someone has done for me in this class was providing food during the class. Some of these people were Sophie and Vince. They both brought snacks that helped me power through the class. Instead of staring at the clock wanting to go to lunch, I focused and did my work. I was more content and my stomach wasn't grumbling, which distracted me from class. These people didn't have to bring their own food, but they did. I am very grateful because it made the class better. 

Something that I taught my classmates was my opinions. My end of the year speech talked about how I believed in equality. Perhaps this speech made them think the same, or maybe it made them conjure another belief. Another time I taught them my opinions was when we did the socratic seminars for different books. When I participated and talked, everyone in the class listened. By doing this, they had an insight of what I thought. They might not have agreed, but I still taught them my opinions. 

The area that I made the biggest improvement was analyzing. Before this year I would just look at a meaningful quote and see what was on the surface. Now I can fully understand the contents. For example, how it affects people, why the person wrote it, or what message the person is giving. Something that I accomplished this year that I am proud of is my end of the year essay. I wrote this in a short amount of time, but I am still proud of it. I was also able to memorize it to a certain extent. This is an accomplishment for me because I am not good at memorizing. 

The most challenging part of this year was learning about the Holocaust. It was so gruesome and depressing that it was hard to listen to it. I know that it is part of history and we need to know about it, but it made me so upset. Sometimes I didn't want to come to class because it made me so distressed. However, I got through it and I learned a lot.

I think the best piece of writing that I did this year was the Montressor's Confession Blog. I think I did the best in this blog because it was very creative. The idea of it is way out of the box and it wasn't expected. I was excited to write it and didn't think of it as work, but as a fun activity.  It was entertaining writing it because I tried to make people astonished. Free writes are always my favorite. Since I liked doing the blog I put more effort then was required. This blog I have the most pride in. 

My favorite book this year was Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan. This was my favorite because all the stories are intertwined. There was three narratives of how they required the same harmonica and what they did with it. They each found themselves by playing this harmonica. I found this very interesting because they were all connected. Even though their lives were completely different, they all shared something in common. Each story inspires you and makes you feel a strong emotion

Some advice I would give to next years students is to do what needs to be done even if you don't want to do it. If you just get your work done then the workload would be a lot less in the future. Then you get to have a lot more free time. If you don't do it then the piles of work will just increase as time goes on. When this happens you will be very stressed out. 

This I Believe Blog

"Equality is Unity"

The idea of being equal is simple, but it’s very hard to attain. All throughout history one group has been superior to another. As one human race, we have never completely been united. We think that we are better than someone else and this makes us alone. I believe that every person is equal no matter their status. I believe that equality, no matter what others say, is still not achieved. I believe that if we see each other as equals we will all be united.

My mother and I were going to a Chicago Bulls game this past winter. We had gotten the tickets from one of our family friends. These tickets were very good because they were the kind that had an unlimited buffet right by the seats. There was also waitresses that would bring us anything we needed. I was so excited to go there because it seemed so fancy. When we got to our seats a waitress came to us and was very hospitable. My mother and I had never been to this kind of booth before so she told us everything we needed to know. Around an hour later my mom and I realized that we had finished our drinks and needed a refill. The people sitting next to us had their drinks refilled and they didn’t have a dirty plate. We tried to find our waitress but she was nowhere to be seen. My mom had to track her down in order to ask for more drinks. She also had to ask another employee to take our plates. Throughout the whole night we saw our waitress asking the other customers if they needed anything and if they were okay. Not once did she ask my mother and me this. At the end of the game the waitress finally went to where we were sitting and loitered by our seats, hoping for a tip. My mom and I left her without a penny because she had shown us complete disrespect. 

I do not know if that waitress was racist or discriminative, but I do know that she treated my mother and I unfairly. Perhaps because we were dressed in jeans and t-shirts, while everyone else was wearing suits and dresses, she thought that we wouldn’t have left a good tip. Maybe, she was very busy with a lot of other customers. However, she didn’t even ask another waitress to assist us. I even saw her and other employees talking and laughing at the minibar. On my ride home I thought how crazy this was. That a young woman would be so judgemental to my mother and I. I have never felt this way before because I had been so sheltered by where I lived. All around my community we all seemed to have the same status as each other. I have never been the odd man out.

From this experience I have personally seen the discrimination that resides in the world. My personal account was extremely minor compared to others experiences. I am also grateful because this has been my only experience. Now I understand what others go through on a day to day basis. I caught a small glimpse of the pain they endure. In the future I am going to use this to fuel my drive to change the world.

I believe that the world is changing, but not fast enough. Times have changed and I am grateful for that. However, I can see that there is a lot of room for improvement. I encourage all of the people in this world to unite as humans instead of one race, gender, ethnicity, religion, or status. What I ask of you is probably one of the hardest things to do. But, humans are evolving and so are our abilities. This will take time, maybe hundreds of years. When we do this, we will see each other for what we are on the inside not the outside. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Aphorism Project Blog


1.                 The aphorism that I chose was "There is no such thing as 'too late' in life". This means that you can do anything that you want at anytime. Your dreams can be achieved at ninety years old if you like. People shouldn't limit their time of when they want to accomplish something. Aside from achieving things, people can always forgive whenever they like. If it was years after you got into a fight with a family member, you still have a chance to make it up with them. You can even change things about yourself that you don't like. I think that Morrie's main message was that age and time aren't affected with what you want to do. Even Morrie, who was on his deathbed, decided to help an old friend write a book. This was something that probably brought him joy and 'comfort in his last months. If he would have thought that since he was dying that helping someone wouldn't matter, because he he wouldn't see the final product, then Morrie would have been deprived from joy. This is why I think he made the aphorism "There is no such thing as 'too late' in life". 

2.  I chose to relate this aphorism with an event that happened four years ago. This event was when an eighty year old man climbed Mount Everest. He won the title of being the oldest man to climb the mountain. This relates to my aphorism because the man didn't think that he was too old to do something like climb the tallest mountain in the world. He thought that eighty years old is as good as 20 years old. In his mind age didn't matter, only the drive to push himself did. This was a goal that he wanted to accomplish so his age wasn't a factor in his ability to do it. 

3. I agree with the aphorism. I think that there is time to do anything possible. The reason that people don't do the things they want to is maybe because they are afraid. For example maybe a person who is in their late 40's wants to start a new career path. One of their doubts could be that they already have a job and a family to support. They think that they should've decided to do this when they were younger. The idea of having a different life might scare them. Besides this fear, there is almost nothing standing in your way. An example of this would be how Mitch decided to reach out to his brother in the book Tuesdays with Morrie. On page 191 it says, "'You're my only brother,' I said. 'I don't want to lose you. I love you.' I had never said such a thing to him before." This excerpt from Mitch shows how he finally made peace with his brother after years of not speaking to each other. Mitch realized that it wasn't 'too late' to try to make everything right between them. He even announced his love for him like he's never done before. He changed the way he expresses his feelings. Mitch's actions demonstrate how there is enough time to make a stronger relationship with someone. The years of not talking didn't affect how the two brothers went back to being friends. 

5.    People compare themselves to the wrong people. If they compared themselves to the unfortunate, we would all be more grateful. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Socratic Seminars Blog

These past three Socratic Seminars have made my thinking of Tuesdays with Morrie and life different. As we went through the seminars we analyzed further into the meaning of the life lessons Morrie taught. One of these lessons that we discussed was happiness. We discussed what it really meant to be happy and why many people aren't. This gave me new insights on what makes other people happy. I compared this to my own opinions on happiness. That was just one way, but there are many more reasons that the Socratic Seminars influenced my thinking. 

There was a few trends that I noticed with myself and personal goals. Some trends that I noticed with my personal goals was that I always wanted to be more involved in the conversation. I usually get caught up in what everyone else is saying that I don't think about what I want to say. Another trend was that I wanted to help the group get back on track instead of talking about things that weren't relevant. This was an important goal because a few times people would bring up things that were not about what we were discussing, and I would keep the conversation moving along. A trend that I noticed about myself was that I always listened more than I talked. By doing this I really tried to understand what the person was saying instead of what I was going to say. 

One personal goal that changed was pulling my classmates into the discussion. This goal changed because as the seminars went on, most of the people participated so there was no need to pull anyone in. Something that I always tried to change throughout the discussions was the amount of me talking. Sometimes I would talk too much and other times I wouldn't talk enough. A healthy balance was needed to make my participation satisfactory. 

Some trends that I noticed with the class was that the more seminars we did, the more people were involved. I think that kids might have been timid or shy the first few times we did it. Then they got more comfortable talking and expressing themselves. Another trend was that I noticed was how we got into deeper topics as the seminars progressed. We would start off with pretty simple ideas and then we would end on entire life lessons. One thing that I noticed that hindered the first seminar was that only certain people were talking the most. This made it so that there was similar opinions all the time. There wasn't a lot of contradictory ideas.  

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Perfect Day Blog

Many people have different ideas of their perfect day. Some people would want to lay on the beach by themselves all day, with a cold drink in their hand. Others, would go to Great America and ride every roller coaster. Morrie's from Tuesdays with Morrie, perfect day was just a simple ordinary day. He would eat his favorite food, enjoy nature, hang out with family and friends, and dance. This seems like a normal day, but to Morrie it was perfection.

My perfect day would start out by waking up at my cousins lake house. It would be early in the morning, right when the sun would touch the lake. The water would be glistening with what looked like diamonds. I would watch this for a while by myself and then go back to sleep for a little bit. I would be awakened by the smell of bacon and pancakes, with my family and cousins in the kitchen and living room interacting. I would eat my breakfast talking to my cousins and catching up on our lives.

Next, after breakfast, my family and I would get our bathing suits on and jump in the water. We would swim for around an hour or so and then come out and rest. Then all of us would get on my cousins boat and we would take a fast ride around the lake. He would then let me drive the boat and I would go really fast. After that we would go back to the lake house and get tubes and life jackets. My brothers, cousin, and I would take our turns going tubing. After this we would all laugh at how horribly one of us wiped out on the tube. We would go on another boat ride to just take in the sun. Then we would return to the store and eat lunch with root beer.

After lunch, I would go with my mom and cousin on the Rhino. We would go on trails through the forest while my cousin's dog ran next to us. I would sit in the back without a seat belt on and feel the wind blow on my face and hair. Doing this would make me feel free. This would go on for a while. When we got back we would go swimming again. Then I would go on the kayak and try not to fall off. By this time is would be getting around dinner time, so my dad and cousin would be grilling. While they were grilling, my brothers, cousin, and I would go to the volleyball court and play sand volleyball. After being exhausted we would walk back to the house and eat hamburgers, hotdogs, or chicken. When we finished dinner, there would have been a beautiful sunset. We would all watch in awe.

Since it would be dark outside, we would look up at the stars that you don't see in the city. My dad would start a fire in the fire pit and and we would make s'mores. Then we would watch a firework show from the top of the boat house with our feet dangling off of the ledge. Or instead of watching from the boat house, my cousin would take us all out on the boat and we would watch the fireworks from the lake. After the firework show we would take a night boat ride around the lake and look at all the different properties. When we got back on land we would make JiffyPop and watch a movie on their couch. We would all fall asleep there and I would wake up in the middle of the night to return to my bed. This would be the perfect day for me.

To make this a reality, I am going to have to talk to my parents about going to their lake house. They would need to organize it with my cousins so we all meet up together. We would also need to schedule it on the 4th of July so there would be fireworks. In addition to this we would have to look at the weather forecast to make sure that it is a warm sunny day. All of this is very achievable.